Further harmonizing cross-border trucking that had once led to a political dispute over U.S. and Mexico shipping, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has accepted the official Mexican standard concerning the periodic inspection of commercial motor vehicles.
The DOT agency said it has determined that Mexico’s inspection system should be added to the list of programs that are comparable to, or as effective as, the federal periodic inspection requirements contained in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
As a result, FMCSA stated, Mexico-domiciled motor carriers operating in the U.S. must ensure that their commercial motor vehicles are inspected annually as required by Mexico’s Secretariat of Communications and Transportation. The carrier must retain a copy of the inspection report and a sticker or decal indicating an inspection was passed must be affixed to the vehicle.
Carriers will no longer have the option of relying on their employees to conduct inspections of the CMVs the carrier controls, using commercial garages for such inspections or passing a roadside inspection based on criteria published by the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Alliance to comply with the federal periodic inspection requirements.
In 2011, Mexico agreed to drop retaliatory tariffs on a list of U.S. exports as part of a settlement of a protracted dispute with the U.S. over Mexican trucks crossing the border. Mexico has imposed the sanctions in 2009 after the U.S. scrapped a pilot project that allowed Mexican trucks to cross the border, originally sanctioned by the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994. President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderón reached an agreement in June to reinstate the trucking program and phase out the retaliatory tariffs.
The Teamsters Union had said allowing long-haul Mexican trucks into the U.S. would cause unsafe roads and cost jobs, while importers lauded the move as a way to save costs and expedite shipments.
NAFTA has come to the fore in the current presidential primary campaigns, as Republican front-runner Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in particular have decried the pact as hurting U.S. manufacturing jobs.
However, the apparel and textile industry is doing fairly well under the agreement, based on the most recent figures. The U.S. exported $6.5 billion of apparel and textiles to Mexico last year, of which $4 billion was fabric and $1.2 billion apparel parts. There was $665 million of textiles and yarn, according to data from the American Apparel & Footwear Association. In turn, Mexico sent $4.5 billion to the U.S., about $3.5 billion of which was apparel and $1 billion worth of textiles.